UK's weekly deportation flights of Albanian migrants 'failing to address hotel crisis'

The government has assigned 400 case workers to deal with asylum cases from Albanians arriving via the Channel

A street in Tirana, the capital of Albania. Getty
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Weekly deportations of Albanian illegal migrants have failed to put a significant dent in the accommodation crisis blighting the UK’s asylum system.

The Conservative government has been urged to urgently address the situation due to the spiralling cost to taxpayers and community tensions.

The number of migrants housed in hotels across the UK hit 40,000 late last year.

Conservative former minister Amanda Milling warned the swelling number of migrants in hotels in her constituency in Staffordshire has sparked protests from locals.

She joined other MPs in the House of Commons in calling on ministers to take steps to vacate hotels of asylum seekers to boost local business and restore harmony among communities.

“Tensions in the community are rising in my constituency, given the use of hotels to house asylum seekers in and around Cannock Chase and particularly in Bridgtown,” she said. “This saw protests in Cannock at the weekend.

“So will the minister join me in thanking the local police who are doing everything they can to respond to issues as they arise?

“And will he meet with me to discuss the situation and ways that we can alleviate my constituents’ concerns?”

Desperate migrants continue to risk lives to cross English Channel

Desperate migrants continue to risk lives to cross English Channel

Robert Jenrick, immigration minister at the Home Office, said he would be pleased to meet Ms Milling and stressed ministers were working to make sure all asylum hotels were cleared “as quickly as possible”.

He said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's administration is “straining every sinew to tackle this issue” and pointed to the deportation of Albanians who entered the UK illegally as an example.

Mr Jenrick said the deal signed with Tirana last December “is now being implemented, which is seeing weekly return flights of illegal migrants to Albania and a faster process involving 400 caseworkers dedicated to those Albanian cases”.

Tory MP Greg Smith said the use of a hotel in his Buckingham constituency to accommodate migrants has badly hit the local economy.

“The loss of this as a valuable local business is noticeable in the town, as well as the diversion of precious primary care resources with an on-site clinic being required at least once a week,” he said.

Mr Jenrick said “too many people are staying in hotels costing too much money to the taxpayers”. He said the government is working to ensure hotels housing asylum seekers are “exited as swiftly as possible”, and is working with councils to find alternative accommodation at larger sites, including disused holiday camps.

“But the enduring solution to this problem is the break the business model of the people smugglers and to stop the boats,” he said. “And it’s for that reason that the Home Secretary and I will shortly bring forward further legislation which I hope will command support across the House.”

Former Conservative prime minister Boris Johnson accused the Labour Party of not having “the ghost of an idea” about how to solve Britain’s Channel migrant crisis.

He told the House that MPs who opposed his government’s plan to send illegal migrants to Rwanda while their applications are being processed have “probably never been there, and are wholly wrong to condescend and to disparage Rwanda in the way that they do.”

“And above all, they have not the ghost of an idea about how to solve the problem of cross-channel gangs putting people at risk,” Mr Johnson added. “And the difference between our side and them is that we have a plan and they don’t.”

Home Secretary Suella Braverman responded by thanking Mr Johnson for his efforts to “fix this incredibly difficult problem”.

“Labour complain and they sit on the sidelines, they criticise and they vote against every measure that we have put forward,” Ms Braverman said. “What I urge them to do is back our Bill, back control over our borders and back the British people.”

Updated: February 07, 2023, 12:09 PM